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He reports to Matt Stone, who owns and runs the team, and to Jason Gomersall, who has been a primary backer and supporter of MSR for four years.
Hazelwood has raced a Gomersall-owned Commodore for the last wo years in Super2, while Gomersall himself races a Torana in Touring Car Masters built and run by MSR. Hazelwood even lives with Gomersall. He is also an investor in naming-rights sponsor Bigmate, a tracking-solutions company.
The other key background financial player in the 2018 mix is South Australian motorsport patron James Rosenberg, who has bought the ex-DJR Team Penske Ford FG X Falcon Hazelwood will race.
“Trying to set up a big pro- gram like this can’t just come from one person, it has to come from multiple people,” says Hazelwood.
“You don’t want some multi- millionaire just throwing money around, you want good people in your corner.
“That’s why I feel very fortunate we have got Jason Gomersall on board, who is one of the most likable blokes I have ever come across, and James Rosenberg, who is one of the most respected people in pitlane.”
The relationship between Hazelwood and Stone is also deep. Only in the first year of their relationship in 2014 was a formal contract in place. Since then it’s been based on a handshake.
“Me and Matt work very closely together and it’s not about who makes the most money, it’s all about finding the money to go out and win races. That’s the essential goal for us,” says Hazelwood.
“We have been working together for a long time now and we know how each of us operates; Matt’s good at what he does and I am good at what I do.”
Hazelwood’s climb to the main game has been well chronicled; family support has been staunch through setbacks, wins and thousands of sausage sizzles. Now a start in Supercars has been attained, new goals are set.
“We have to be realistic, it is the toughest touring-car championship in the world,” says Hazelwood.
“So rookie team, rookie driver, there is a lot to learn. But there is nothing like a challenge, you have to start somewhere. The first six months is all about taking it all in and just try and minimise the mistakes and try and learn as much as we can.
“The main thing is if we can understand the new chassis early enough and get it into the window... there’s no reason why we can’t start to get those results.
“I think the enduros will be chance for us to shine. If we can do a nice, consistent job and if some of these big teams trip over themselves then we can position ourselves toward the end of the day and jag a result.
“Overall, if we can have a top five, crack a few top 10s and finish top 15 in the champion- ship that would be really special.”
Hazelwood’s benchmark on the way to winning the 2017 Super2 championship was Paul Dumbrell. In 2018 he will have 25 benchmarks on the grid around him. He got a taste of what to expect in his wildcard run at Ipswich last year.
“The intensity of chassis setup was one thing,” says Hazelwood.
“It was the first time I had ever driven a car with the twin-spring, which gives you more tune-ability... it means your debrief is complicated by 10. It can do your head in pretty quickly.”
Hazelwood recognises the challenges. He’s teamed up with Bond University to develop both his mental and physical fitness for the main game.
“No one holds back,” he explains.
“Throughout the whole pack it’s qualifying laps right throughout the whole race to be at the front. There’s no room for error, you make the slightest mistake they take advantage of it, which is what you have to expect. But I think you have to stamp your authority, not be dirty, but show them you’re not afraid to race.”
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